A few weeks ago on the first day of our big Seattle snow, I went for a walk with my dog around Lake Wilderness. It was morning, and the park was blanketed with thick snow and a silent hush.
When we walked along the trail near the water’s edge, I noticed the blue heron sitting there. We stopped and watched. The heron didn’t move. I wanted to get a good picture (and maybe some video too), so I began walking slowly closer to the heron. I knew there would be a limit… at some point, the heron would be alarmed at the human and dog invading its territory. We got closer, and paused, then moved again… and again.
As I thought, there was a threshold. When we crossed it, the great heron spread its massive wings and slowly flew away.
This experience makes me think about how we approach the other…
Do we approach others (especially those who are “other-than”) with fear, anger, revulsion, skepticism, and a general sense of dismissiveness?
Do we have a better approach than that? I really hope so.
Franciscan Friar Lester Bach writes about the Christian approach:
Without diminishing our beliefs, we approach others with love rather than domination.
We approach others with a desire to share what is important to us rather than to make them feel insignificant or stupid.
We approach others with a readiness to understand them rather than presuming that they should think like us.
We approach others with respect, even reverence, creating an atmosphere of friendship rather than jumping into an argument we must win.
We approach others, if need be, with a forgiving spirit rather than imposing feelings of guilt.
We approach them with joy and hope rather than fear and suspicion.